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5.1 Discussions on Significance of Colour

The effects of colour on humans’ perceptions are evident throughout the history of mankind, whereby the effects of colour varied according to experiences, associations, psychology as well as cultural factors and age (Church, 2002). For instance, while white is associated with brides in the western culture;

white represents mourning and death in the eastern culture (Landa, 2006; &

Turner, 2008). Within the psychological perspective; white symbolises purity, cleanliness, healthy (Klimchuk & Krasovec, 2006) as well as well modern and neatness (Turner, 2008). Individual experiences also contribute to the effects of colours on emotion; a child for an example may relate fear with white, if the child had have bad experiences in the hospital or dentist. Age may also be a contributing factor to colour effects due to cultural and social movements (Church, 2002) as colour preferences changed over time. Therefore, the association of white varies greatly: calm, purity, mourning, freshness, wisdom, truth, simplicity, contemporariness, ghostliness and absolute silence (Klimchuk &

Krasovec, 2006; Napoles, 1988; Turner, 2008; & Wills, 2006). Thus, a particular colour may project different meanings, emotions, and feelings based on the cultural context and the use of the particular colour.


Deviating from the effects of colour to humans’ emotions, effects of colour could also be found in marketing environment, whereby colour is vital for brand and product differentiation, creating and sustaining corporate identity as well as consumer perception (Aslam, 2006). The use of colour in marketing is briefly shown in Figure 5.1.

Figure 5.1: Basic interaction of Colour in Marketing. (Source: Aslam, 2006)

Among the few points that were highlighted by Aslam (2006) in the effects of colour in marketing are such as:

a) Colouring the Product

- attributes of the product such as quality, price, categories and product association are revealed by the colour; whereby colours that are used


in logos, packages and products; trigger emotional response among the consumer and influence the perception of the product and company

i) Product Differentiation

- a different value of the product within the same category can be created by using new or additional colour that relates to the quality, flavour or attribute of a particular product, as a particular brand can be associated with certain colour ( Pepsi with blue, Coke with red)

ii) Self Image

- a particular choice of colour symbolises self image and individual personality with their preferences of colour for the personal belongings iii) Country of origin effects

- colour preferences varies across countries due to associations, beliefs and cultural context; red may be the preferred colour choice in China, but red may not be successful if it was used in the Middle Eastern countries

iv) Package Colour

- Colour is used as an attention grabber especially when the product was placed along with other products

b) Colouring the Brand Identity and Corporate Image i) Colour Distinctiveness

- factors such as distinctiveness within a specific category (brand differentiation), sophistication of colour and ability to elicit emotion response, influenced the corporate choice of colour (red within


beverage category – Coke, red within the chocolate category – Kit Kat, red within football club category – Manchester United, red within fast food category – Kentucky Fried Chicken)

ii) Brand Association

- corporate position and brand recall for certain product category was highly influenced by choice of colour whereby colour was the independent variable that creates certain association within the market and maintained its corporate image

iii) Colour Association

- colour association may differ when it was used in different context or environment. Bellizzi et al. (1983, as cited in Aslam, 2006) noted that colours such as red, orange, yellow (warm colours) were advisable to be used on the exterior of a store but may be disruptive for consumers in decision making if it was used in the interior of the store.

c) Colouring in advertisements

- colours are vital in print message as it reinforces consumer attention in media advertisement, was summated by Rossiter and Bellman (2004, as cited in Aslam, 2006), as colours used in advertisements reflects consumer’s value (Aslam, 2006); and the colour associations within consumers differes according to culture, religion, socio-economic status and geographically.

149 5.2 Inferences of Research

Based on the discussion on the effects of colour in brand and corporate identity, it was notable that colours had a significant impact on the brand identity that triggered brand recall and association with a particular product (Aslam, 2006). The brand recall was usually triggered by the logo or colour used in the logo of a particular product. In regards to the impact of red colour towards AA passengers’ brand association, 42 percent of the respondents associated AA with red colour when the respondents were given a swatch of red colour to relate it with a brand or logo. This suggested the use of red colour by Air Asia as a tool to build its brand identity needs to be strengthened and developed in order to achieve a better brand recall and brand identity with the use of red colour due to competitions from other industries, organizations and products with the same use of colours. The importance of brand identity to an organisation was highlighted by Melewar and Bains (2002) by stating:

… brand identity becomes paramount as a means for distinction and what the company stands for in the mind of consumers, investors and employees. This can be subsumed inner quality, awareness, relevance and competitive differentiation. (p.58)

Following that, in search on the impact of red on AA passengers’ colour attractiveness; red was ranked the most attractive colour based on eleven basic colour swatches. This further explaines the wide use of red colour across various industries; (beverage – Coke, fast food – Kentucky Fried Chicken, telecommunication – Maxis Hotlink, football – Manchester United, and air travel – Air Asia). Moreover, the wide usage of red could be due to its intense and gripping effect that red has; which was posited by Moser (2003, as cited in


Aslam, 2006). This intense and gripping effect of red colour was contributed by its physical properties – longest wavelength, which made red attractive to the human eye (Ames, 1996; & Turner, 2008); which also explaines the occurrence of red appearing as the closest colour. Hence, it can be concluded that red had a positive impact on the colour attractiveness and brand association of AA passengers. This phenomenon was further rationalized by Turner (2008), that red was the principal hue or colour in Asia, where red is woven intensely into Asia’s heritage, consequently becoming the most auspicious colour. Turner (2008) stated, ‘… red is the colour of good luck, prosperity and strength.” (p.33). Thus, red which has a significant impact on the beliefs and culture in the Asia region, acknowledges the scenario of red as an attractive colour to the AA passengers.

White which was applied together with red colour on the logo of AA, can also be associated with death and mourning in India and China (Turner, 2008).

Nevertheless, white was also associated with modern, neat, contemporariness and fresh (Klimchuk & Krasovec, 2006; & Turner, 2008). Albeit, white was associated with death and mourning in the eastern culture (Landa, 2006), white with its ‘equality’ as a fundamental character was noted to complement any colour (Turner, 2008); as white reflected and amplified all colours. Thus, even if white had certain negative associations in the eastern culture, however; white with the present of red in AA logo projects and amplifies the red colour instead.

Hence, the negative associations that are related to white are subdued due to the presence of red.


Moving on to the psychological and physiological impacts of red colour of AA’s logo, AA passengers associated more positively towards the AA’s logo, as the respondents disagreed and strongly disagreed with any negative associations.

The choice of colours for the AA logo has been successful in evoking the emotions and expressions among its passengers; as noted by Arnheim (1974), colours conveys strong expressions to individuals based on the associations of colour to them. Based on the results gathered from the respondents, it can be summarized that more than 50% of the Air Asia passengers in this research associated AA logo with these emotions and expressions; such as: optimistic, dynamic and mobility, aggressive, powerful, strength, attractive, noticeable, successful, energetic and impulsive (Table 4.30, p. 108). Therefore, it can be generalized that AA passengers associate AA logo in a positive manner.

The scenarios of the AA’s positive associations among its passengers were explained by Arnheim (1974) who stated, “... the same colour in two different contexts is not the same colour.” (p.362). Thus, even though red may be negatively associated with explosiveness, death, war, anarchy, the devil and blood (Napoles, 1988); danger (Turner, 2008); explosiveness and war (www.muslim.org, 2008); nevertheless, red in AA logo projects and symbolises positive emotions and attributes. Arnheim (1974) further noted that colours shape crucial emotional experiences, whereby the identities and associations of colours were established by the relation or context where the colour was applied to its audience (Garber & Hyatt, 2003). The context or relation may vary accordingly – as colours were defined and perceived by its form (Garber & Hyatt, 2003); red as a bridal dress in China to indicate good luck and happiness (Turner, 2008); or red


in traffic lights that indicates danger and stop (Holtzschue, 2006); or red in fast food restaurants that increases the appetite of its customers (Aslam, 2006).

Furthermore, according to Grossman and Wisenblit (1999, as cited in Funk and Ndubisi, 2006), individual’s colour preferences for a particular object or setting were influenced by the situation and the associations and symbolisms developed by individuals based on their past experiences.

To further seek gender differences on the use of colours; an Independent Sample Test was carried out to seek the differences between male and female respondents on the importance of colour in their daily experiences, red as a successful colour, the influence of colour in purchasing decision and the experiences of looking at AA’s logo. Based on the Independent Sample Test results on gender differences; it can be summated that colour perceptions was almost similar for both male and female respondents in the given scenarios. These results were supported by Yazhu, Hurlbert and Robinson (2006), that previous studies on gender differences had been inconclusive for colour preferences. This was due to ‘androgynous’ individuals as highlighted by Bem (1974, as cited in Hogg & Garrow, 2003), whereby these individuals may be both assertive and expressive as well as both feminine and masculine. Moreover, in comparison of colour with gender, colour was noted by Turner (2008), as the primary factor of purchasing decision, more than 60% most of the time. More importantly, Hogg and Garrow (2003) suggested that gender was not a homogeneous category;

instead gender itself involved other contributing factors such as identity, status and display; whereby these factors varied across different groups of men and women. A study on preference rankings of colour between men and women; by


Granger (1922, as cited in Yazhu et al., 2006); showed there were no evidences of any marked differences between both the genders.

In contrast, Funk and Ndubisi (2006) found that there were gender differences in the process of decision making in few situations that were highlighted; such as: solving hospital problem, financial decision making, selection of college and majoring, ethical issues, determination of self-esteem, emotional experience and communication styles between male and female.

Therefore, gender identity; as defined by Hogg and Garrow (2003) as: “the sense of self as a man or a woman, which can have various sexual identification”

(p.168), was noted to contribute significantly to the consumer behaviour and their decision making process.

In a further quest in seeking gender differences between male and female respondents’ experience of looking at Air Asia logo within the given eight categories of experiences; it can be concluded that there were no significant differences for all the eight categories of experiences. The results obtained for the gender differences of looking at the Air Asia logo can be further explained by recent studies that showed no significant sex differences in colour preferences, as summated by Camgoz et al. (2002) and Ou et al., (2004, as cited in Funk &

Ndubisi, 2006). The results of no sexual differences in colour preferences may be related to the other contributing factors in colour preferences, such as identity – individual self of a man or women; status – which was influenced by socio-economic situation, education and cultural backgrounds; and display – projection of an individual self (Hogg & Garrow, 2003). These contributing factors were


also related to the ‘androgynous’ individual factors; such as the masculinity and femininity in each and every individuals.

In seeking the variations of religious colour symbolisms of red and white colours of AA’s logo within the four major religions in Malaysia: Muslim, Buddhism, Hinduism and Christianity; it was founded that all four religions associated positively to both the colours of red and white. Table 5.1 summarized the majority of the respondents’ results on the religious colour symbolisms of red and white colour in respective of their religions.

Table 5.1: Majority percentage of each respondent’s group toward religious colour symbolism of white and red in respective of four major religions

Colour / Religion

Muslim Buddhist Hindu Christian

RED Courage –

As shown in Table 5.1, the religious colour symbolisms for both red and white colours varied accordingly to religion. To further support the differences in religious colour symbolisms of colour; the One Way ANOVA Analysis was carried out on five different scenarios based from the survey questionnaire. In the perspective of importance of colour in daily experiences and associations of colour towards senses, objects, moods and characteristic; the Hindu respondents recorded the highest mean for both these cases. As highlighted by Griggs (n.d.) on Heller’s discussion on the colour red, symbolic associations of colours were related to religious rituals whereby blood had its uses in believes or sacrificial and communions practices; and red was also associated with fire, as objects changed


to red colour when they were hot, as well as to people with hot temper. On a further note, the colour of fire – saffron; symbolises the Supreme Being in Hinduism; and nevertheless, the Jains, Buddhist and Sikhs also considered saffron as an auspicious colour (www.hinduism.com, 2008). It can be concluded that colours played a significant role in the daily life and experiences of the Hindu respondents as colours were noted to play a significant role within the Hindu culture and religion (www.wou.edu, 2008). The use of colours was deeply rooted into the religious ceremonies, cultural beliefs and their daily lives. Red symbolizes happiness in Hinduism (www.colourlovers.com, 2008), and among the six vital colours in Hinduism were red, saffron, green, blue, white and yellow (www.wou.edu, 2008).

In seeking the influence of colour in purchasing decision, and red as a successful colour; the Buddhist respondents recorded the highest mean for both these scenarios. This was such, as colour was a major contributing factor to Buddhist respondents in their purchasing decision, and red was also regarded as a successful colour. In Buddhism, red was associated with Buddha Amitabha himself and symbolises sacred things or places; fire, preservation and life force (www.colourlovers.com,2008). In contrast, red which represents fire can also be related to destructive force. Colour principles were vital in Buddhism, as it was applied to wisdom of life to achieve the state of Nirvana - as where one’s end its journey (www.colourlovers.com, 2008; and www.religionfacts.com, 2008).

In search of religious factors in the role of colour to make a particular logo stand out, the Muslim respondents recorded the highest mean. On the contrary,


the Muslim respondents scored significantly the lowest mean from other respondents, for the scenarios on the importance of colour in daily experiences and influence of colour in purchasing decision. The significance of red and white colours may not be relevant to the Muslim respondents; as in Islam, green is the sacred colour of the religion (www.religionfacts.com, 2008; and www.colourlovers.com, 2008); whereby green symbolised the religion itself - Islam. Within the religion of Islam, green was associated with life and nature and it was also suggested that green was the favourite colour of Prophet Muhammad (www.colourlovers.com, 2008).

The Christian group of respondents showed that religious factor did not influence their perceptions and associations on colour, compared to other religions. The Christian group of respondents scored the lowest mean for three scenarios; role of colour to make a particular logo stand out; red as a successful colour; and the association of colour towards senses, objects, moods and characteristics. Religious colour symbolism had lesser impact within Christianity, compared to Hinduism and Buddhism; as religious symbolic colours were seldom used in the Bible and only primarily used in banner and vestment - liturgical decorations (www.religionfacts.com, 2008). Therefore, the religious colour symbolisms within Christianity were less significant than religious colour symbolisms within Hinduism and Buddhism; where colours played a vital role in religious practices and rituals.

Based on the findings of this research, colour associations can be related to the advertising models that were presented; AIDA Model, Think-Feel-Do


Response Model, Facet Model and the ELM. Among the topics of the colour association from these research findings that can be discussed within these four models were: (i) colour associations of Air Asia’s logo that was related with emotion and expression; and (ii) various religious associations of red and white colours among the four major religions in Malaysia (Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism and Christianity). As highlighted by Wells et al. (2007), the AIDA model consisted of four elements: attention, interest, desire and action. The Think-Feel-Do Response Model consisted of three elements: think, feel and do (Duncan, 2005). As for the Facet Model, Wells et al. (2007) summated six elements:

cognition, perception, affective/emotion, persuasion, behavior & association.

Even though, each of these models consisted of different elements and functioned differently, nonetheless, some similarities exist between these models. Generally, all the elements in these three models can be categorised into three groups; (i) cognitive, (ii) affective and (iii) persuasive.

Albeit, the first hierarchy of effects model (AID Model) was founded in 1898 by St. Elmo Lewis, that proposed that advertising began with attracting

‘Attention’ of the customer, followed by evoking ‘Interest’ of the product and finally to the ‘Desire’ of owning the product or utilizing a particular service;

various other hierarchy of effects models have evolved and other advertising models have been created to this very day (Barry & Howard, 1990). Nonetheless, the debate on the sequence of this hierarchy of effects models continues due to the varying factors, such as product choice, customer background, cost, advertising media, customer’s exposure and experience, time constraint, customer’s perception and interest. As such, Peterson et al. (1986, as cited in Barry &


Howard, 1990) contended that the first-two categories, cognitive and affective seemed to be in a constant flux with the elements of these two categories being interwoven and shaping one another. However, the hierarchy of effects models was noted to be continuously evolving within three main factors; (i) cognition, (ii) affection and (iii) conation (Barry & Howard, 1990).

Figure 5.2 illustrated the different elements of the AIDA Model, Think-Feel-Do Response Model and Facet Model being categorised into three groups; of cognitive, affective and conative. Nevertheless, it also demonstrated how the peripheral route of ELM can be related to the affective category. Different colours were used to represent different elements from their respective models. Elements such as affection/emotion, perception and association from the Facet Model; feel

Figure 5.2 illustrated the different elements of the AIDA Model, Think-Feel-Do Response Model and Facet Model being categorised into three groups; of cognitive, affective and conative. Nevertheless, it also demonstrated how the peripheral route of ELM can be related to the affective category. Different colours were used to represent different elements from their respective models. Elements such as affection/emotion, perception and association from the Facet Model; feel